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The pandemic has forced companies to think creatively about their business. So is that something positive we can take from the last 24 months?
In the last two years, the vast majority of UK businesses have been forced to amend their working procedures in response to Covid-19. For many of these businesses, adapting to the pandemic required innovative solutions. A survey from print and design experts Solopress has revealed that a staggering 69% of representatives from creative industries said that the pandemic accelerated innovation within their business. But how and why has innovation become even more vital for businesses seeking to mitigate the impact of COVID-19?
It was not just existing businesses that saw opportunity in the pandemic – 772,002 businesses were formed in the UK in 2020, particularly in sectors able to capitalise on the pandemic, including PPE manufacturers, disinfectant manufacturers, campsites and takeaway companies.
For instance, in August 2021, rapid delivery service Weezy began delivering goods from wholesalers, local bakers and butchers within 15 minutes for a fee of £2.95. Their reaction to new customer needs won them a high rate of customer retention, leading to four more fulfilment centres opening in London.
A staggering one in three small to medium enterprises launched new products to increase profitability during the pandemic. Eyewear brand Zenni Optical quickly adapted to the pandemic, fast-tracking innovations including their anti-fog lenses for mask-wearing customers. Their product innovation accelerated eyewear sales projections by 45%. Likewise, underwear brand Thinx responded to increased demand for activewear, launching their own line of leggings, running shorts and more, increasing sales by 10% in 2020.
As consumer behaviour has drastically shifted towards online shopping, depleted brand loyalty and a focus on health and sustainability. Of the Solopress survey, 80% of respondents noted that their business adapted to seize opportunities as a result of the pandemic, indicating the necessity of innovation to meet customer needs.
Government data reveals that UK businesses indicated greater innovation rates than expected in the absence of Covid-19, with over 60% of respondents adopting digital technologies and new management practices, 38% adopting new digital capabilities and 45% delivering a new product or service.
Following two further lockdowns and the Delta and Omicron variants, businesses have been continually adapting. According to McKinsey, businesses with the most comprehensive scenario planning, including plans to ramp up innovation and engagement, are likely to recover fastest. And, with World Bank findings highlighting innovation and digital technology as conducive to business success, you can expect to see these trends continue.
As technology develops to meet the demands of a post-pandemic world, organisations must accept the need to innovate and harness these developments to compete in this increasingly challenging landscape. Despite the pandemic’s negative impact, it has legitimised new opportunities for businesses to diversify and better serve their customer base, offering success and stability going forward.